The First Step in Losing Weight while Living with Hypothyroidism

 

 

 

 

This post first appeared on Thyroid Truths.

Over the coming months I will be adding to this blog series on “How to Lose Weight while Living with Hypothyroidism”. Before I get into the dietary guidelines, the focused exercises and the key foods, there is a very important step that needs to be addressed for optimal results.

Begin to Learn to Love Yourself

You may look at that above statement and groan, and I’ll admit the “self-love” movement has become such a buzzword over the last few years that its true intention may have gotten lost in the sensation.

But in order to heal, to be our best selves, we need to truly and deeply care for ourselves.

What does it mean to love yourself?

It means to begin to make a commitment to be kind to yourself. To show yourself compassion. To begin to really care for your body like you love it, and feed your body the foods you would feed anyone else that you deeply cared for and loved.

Modern medicine has now accepted the long known Eastern practice of “mind-body medicine”- the idea that thoughts (and our mental state) can affect our physical well-being. If we constantly put ourselves down when we look in the mirror, tell ourselves that we are too big, or not good enough, this can subconsciously begin to affect our physical state. Some of you may be aware of the saying “thoughts become things- choose the good ones!”  Not to mention, the added stress we place on ourselves is not beneficial for the thyroid.

So how do we begin to love ourselves?  It’s a process. Dr. Habib Sadeghi, co-founder of Be Hive Healing in LA, published an amazing book titled “Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love and Weight Loss” that offers some great insights and guidance on learning to love ourselves. My dear friend and colleague Dr. Maryska Taylor also focuses a great deal on self-love in her medical practice and she offers up some great blog posts on her website like this one.

If we truly commit to loving our bodies, even as they are today, it is amazing how our actions towards our bodies can change. In fact, research has shown that when patients begin to enhance their feelings of self-worth and increased confidence, weight loss becomes more sustainable.

3 simple steps for begin self-love

1. Make friends with the person in the mirror. Look at your reflection and be nice! If negative or mean thoughts and words run through your head, catch yourself. Would you say those things to your best friend? To your mother or daughter? Start to replace the thoughts with positive ones about your appearance. This can be difficult for some at first, but practice makes perfect!

2. Only eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body, eat slowly and chew your food fully. When you are full, stop eating.

3. Be mindful of what you choose to put in your mouth. Start to actively be aware of your food choices. When preparing a meal or eating out, ask yourself- is this what my body needs? Is this food actually nutritious for my body? Choosing whole foods, that are not packaged and including lots of fruits and vegetables is a good start.

I love choosing to feed my body healthy whole foods. Additionally, I know my body needs at least 8 hours of sleep a night. When I was younger I used to try and stay up later, but I now listen to my body and if I need to go to sleep at 9pm- I do!

What do you do to love yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts below!

Dr. Emily

Cochrane G. Role for a sense of self-worth in weight-loss treatments: Helping patients develop self-efficacy. Canadian Family Physician. 2008;54(4):543-547.

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3 Must Know Facts about Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale and Hypothyroidism

THIS POST FIRST APPEARED ON WWW.THYROIDTRUTHS.COM. If you haven’t had a chance to check out THYROID TRUTHS yet, be sure to take a look!
One of THE MOST commonly asked questions I receive is can I eat cruciferous vegetables if I have hypothyroid disease?
Cruciferous veggies, otherwise known as the brassica family of vegetables, include kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, turnip tops, and brussel sprouts. I don’t know about you, but these are some of my all-time favorite vegetables to cook with! Plus, the cruciferous vegetables are well known for their health benefits which include being a high source of fiber and also may be effective at fighting cancer. These veggies contain a substance known as Indole 3 Carbonyl (13C) that targets multiple aspects of cancer cell cycle regulation and helps to benefit estrogen metabolism.
Although this all sounds great, lately these veggies have been getting a really bad rep for harming the thyroid!
The claim is that the cruciferous vegetables contain certain substances known as goitrogens (goiter producing substances) that could cause the thyroid to enlarge or slow down, and reduce the absorption of iodine (important for thyroid function). These vegetables also contain a substance known as thiocyanate, which may interfere with iodine absorption to further damage the thyroid. Obviously for all of us that have hypothyroid, this reads as a huge red flag causing many of us to consider removing these delicious vegetables from out diet.
However, there are very few studies that suggest that these claims are true. In fact, some studies show that the risk may be minimal at best.
Fact #1: Researchers at the University of California found that only certain types of cruciferous vegetables may actually reduce the amount of iodine uptake. These were: collard greens, brussel sprouts and Russian kale. But other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, turnip tops and broccoli rabe contained less than 10umol of goitrogenic chemicals per 100g servings and researchers concluded that these veggies therefore posed minimal risk to the thyroid.
Fact #2: In another study, researchers provided participants with 150g of brussel sprouts every day for 4 weeks. Remember, these Brussels are supposed to interfere with iodine uptake.  The  brussel sprouts used in the study did in fact contain a high amount of chemicals thought to harm the thyroid. However, the chemicals did not affect the thyroid function of the participants. Measurements of thyroid hormones were unchanged after the 4 weeks!
Fact #3: Other studies have shown that cooking these “goitrogenic” foods, especially lightly steaming them, can inactivate the goitrogens! It appears that the sweet spot for de-activation of these substances is steaming for 3-4 minutes.
Bottom line: Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli and cabbage have many health benefits and do NOT seem to be as problematic to the thyroid as some are claiming. That said, if you have hypothyroidism, it would be recommended to cook or lightly steam or crucifers more often to ensure you are not being exposed to high levels of goitrogens. Additionally, if you love raw crucifers and often eat them uncooked, it would be a good idea to have your thyroid hormone levels checked via blood work to ensure that these vegetables are not interfering with your medication or affecting your thyroid health in any way.
Do you love cruciferous vegetables as much as I do? What’s your favorite way to cook them? I will be sharing my favorite cauliflower recipe with you all soon- so stayed tuned. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!
Dr. Emily
Paxman PJ and Hill R. The goitrogenicity of kale and its relation to thiocyanate content. J Sci Food Agric. 1974;25(3):329-337.
Nutr Rev. 2016 Apr;74(4):248-58. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv110. Epub 2016 Mar 5.
 
Hum Toxicol. 1986 Jan;5(1):15-9

Introducing my new website: Thyroid Truths!

I am very excited to announce and introduce my new website, Thyroid Truths! After years of living with hypothyroid myself, and treating countless patients with thyroid disease I have created Thyroid Truths. This is your guide to losing weight and feeling great while living with hypothyroidism. I have built this in hopes that the knowledge helps you as much as it has helped me. Thyroid Truths is designed to provide you with a database of information, resources and videos to help to you with your thyroid health.

 

My story

When I was in my early 20’s, despite a healthy diet and active lifestyle, I was gaining weight, my face was puffy, my periods began to be very painful and I was constantly cold. My MD kept telling me that my blood work was fine, I was healthy.

But deep down I knew SOMETHING was going on- and I suspected it was thyroid.

Finally, at the age of 27, I found out the truth. I had a “complete thyroid panel” collected that revealed I had Hashimoto’s hypothyroid, a common auto-immune condition that causes anti-bodies to attack the thyroid. By this time, my TSH had also increased and I needed medication to help my situation. I was frustrated and angry after learning that if I had the complete thyroid panel done earlier, it may have shown the elevated antibodies (even though my TSH was normal) and I might have been able to prevent going on life-long medication!  Nonetheless I began to learn as much as possible about thyroid disease. Combining my medical background with my passion for natural approaches, I can happily report that I have greatly improved my health and energy levels.

Did you know that 1 in 8 woman will develop a thyroid condition over the course of their lifetime? Do you think you could be part of this statistic? Take this quiz on the thyroid truths page to find out!

As the website grows, it will contain free information, recipes, e-books and online courses to help you life your best life while living with hypothyroidism.

I am looking forward to hearing your feedback about the new site! If you know someone in your life that could benefit from this thyroid information, please pass it along!

In Health,

Dr. Emily

4 Reasons Why Selenium may help the Thyroid

Selenium is a mineral found in the soil, and is naturally occurring in very small amounts in some foods and water. Although our bodies require very small amounts of selenium, certain parts of the world have now been found to have selenium deficient soil, and thus lead to more selenium deficient foods. Recent research shows that selenium may be helpful in treating Hypothyroidism. Here’s why.

1. In areas where the soil is low in selenium, it has been shown that people are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common forms of Hypothyroidism in North America.

2. In one study, when patients suffering from various forms of thyroid disease were tested for selenium levels, all were found to be lower than normal healthy people without thyroid disease.

3. The thyroid contains more selenium by weight than any other organ. Selenium is a key part of the enzymes that remove iodine molecules from the thyroid hormoneT4 converting it into the active thyroid hormone T3. Therefore without selenium there would be no activation of thyroid hormone. Additionally, selenium plays a important role in protecting the thyroid gland against oxidative damage.

4. Do you take iodine? Without adequate selenium, high iodine levels can lead to destruction of the thyroid gland cells.

In a placebo controlled study published in 2002, German researchers reported on an experiment in which they gave 200 mcg of selenium daily to patients with Hashimoto’s disease and high levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (Read more about thyroid testing and antibodies here). After three months, the thyroid peroxidase antibody levels of the patients taking selenium were decreased by 66.4% compared to their pre-treatment values, and antibody levels returned to normal in nine of the selenium treated patients. However, in 2008 researchers in Austria reported that they were not able to duplicate the results of the earlier study. They suggested that selenium supplementation might be of greater benefit to patients with higher disease activity, or higher levels of antibodies prior to starting the selenium therapy.

Foods high in selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Yellowfin Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Grass Fed Meat

However, as mentioned above, selenium levels in our food sources may have decreased, or may vary greatly. If you are struggling with thyroid disease, talk to your health care provider to see if selenium may be helpful for you!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

Works Cited

  1. Gärtner R, Gasnier BC, Dietrich JW, Krebs B, Angstwurm MW. Selenium supplementation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis decreases thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1687-91.
  2. Karanikas G, Schuetz M, Kontur S, et al. No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2008 Jan;18(1):7-12.
  3. Kohrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  4. Kucharzewski M, Braziewicz J, Majewska U, Góźdź S. Concentration of selenium in the whole blood and the thyroid tissue of patients with various thyroid diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Jul;88(1):https://emilylipinski.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php25-30.
  5. Köhrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  6. Lifeextension, “Thyroid Regulation” accessed November 2017.
  7. Mazokopakis EE, Chatzipavlidou V. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the role of selenium. Current concepts. Hell J Nucl Med. 2007 Jan-Apr;10(1):6-8.
  8. Zimmermann MB, Köhrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):867-78.

 

 

 

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Thyroid Health and Sleep

 

One of my passions is treating thyroid disease.

Optimizing thyroid function, especially if you have Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune thyroid disease, requires some good detective work including testing for all the important markers of thyroid health. If you haven’t read my blog on thyroid tests, you can find it here.

Next month, I will be giving a talk to other doctors and dentists on “The Clinical Management of Weight Reduction in Oral Sleep Apnea”. While reviewing my notes and creating my presentation I came across some interesting research regarding the thyroid and sleep apnea. Before I tell you about this research, it is important to note that many of my patients with thyroid troubles have disordered sleep patterns but this does not necessarily mean that have sleep apnea. One of the key signs that the thyroid has began to under function is feeling tired. In fact, many of my patients report wanting to sleep 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours at a time- and still feeling fatigued!. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes sleep can be disturbed when thyroid hormones are out of balance. These patients may feel tired because they have been up many times during the night, which could be a result of hormone imbalance.

Sleep Apnea, is a chronic health condition that is characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping.  These pauses in breathing and lack of oxygen wake people up during the night and the result is un-refreshing, fragmented sleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring, restless sleep, gasping for air while sleeping, fatigue, daytime sleepiness,  and nasal congestion. Sleep apnea has also been correlated to weight gain, high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. So how does sleep apnea relate to thyroid disease? Interestingly enough, studies have found that 25-35% of people with hypothyroidism also have sleep apnea AND sleep apnea may be a disk factor for the development of autoimmune thyroid disease! Research that was reported in a 2012 study published in Endocrine journal revealed that over 50% of people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (otherwise known as OSA) tested positive for thyroid antibodies (TPO or TG antibodies). These people still had normal levels of TSH, the “gold standard” marker for determining thyroid disease. However, thyroid antibodies can be positive long before TSH changes, and can be an early marker of thyroid dysfunction- especially if the patient has symptoms of thyroid disease!

Testing for sleep apnea requires having your breathing monitored overnight in a sleep lab. As unpleasant as this may sound early detection and early treatment significantly improves health outcomes. Remember, sleep apnea can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, using CPAP or Oral Dental Appliance can improve fatigue and increase energy. If you are overweight, working to reduce weight can also be key in reducing symptoms.

If you have symptoms of hypothyroid such as:

  • Easy weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Heavy periods
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails

I would encourage you to ask your doctor, or work with another healthcare practitioner to have multiple thyroid tests run including TSH, T4, T3 and TPO.

I believe wellness requires working with a physician (medical or naturopathic) that is willing to get to the root cause of your symptoms. Don’t be shy to ask questions about your health- taking charge of your health is empowering!

Dr. Emily

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CORPORATE WELLNESS TORONTO: INFUSION HEALTH AT RBC, IT’S ALL ABOUT STRESS

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This past Friday, I had the pleasure of talking to some wonderful woman at RBC about stress management and thyroid health. It still amazes me that so many people do not know about the MANY different tests available to investigate thyroid health. These tests help doctors and patients completely understand the functioning of this important gland. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is not the only test to investigate thyroid health, even though it is typically the only test run for thyroid.  If you would like to know more about the 6 informative tests read here: http://www.infusionhealth.ca/category/thyroid-health/.

As always, many people are interested in how to manage stress, but so many individuals (myself included at one time in life), despite knowing exactly what to do, choose not to take care of themselves. WE MUST PRACTICE SELF CARE!!! Stress, eventually, catches up with people. And long term stress can increase pessimism, anxiety and depression.

Interestingly enough, work appears to be the #1 source for Canadians.

The majority of highly stressed workers (62%) identified work as their main source of stress. Clustered far behind were financial concerns and not having enough time (both at 12%), family matters, and personal and other issues such as relationships, health and generalized worries These proportions are very similar to those reported in 2005(Stats Canada 2011)

A little stress can increase performance and help us carry out our necessary daily activities. However, long term stress can decrease our performance and can have significant effects on our mental and physical health.

stress

 

 

 

 

 

By practicing self care and managing our stress we become happier, healthier more productive individuals.

Infusion Health specializes in helping corporations learn how to properly manage stress with diet and lifestyle interventions. We offer interactive seminars and provide in house Naturopathic Doctors (covered by most benefits plans:)

For more information, please email info@infusionhealth.ca

In Health,

Dr. Lipinski, ND

Thyroid Health: Keed to know info! and the 6 thyroid tests you need to ask for from your Doctor

thyroid-gland (tuberose.com)

 

 

 

 

 

(adapted from Dr.Aviva Romm, MD, 2014)

I see a lot of patients that complain of weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, PMS, and complaining of always being cold. All these symptoms point to the possibility of hypothyroidism, or under active thyroid function. Sometimes, their TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), the most common test for thyroid function, has been tested and may still fall into the “normal range”. However, TSH is only one of the markers for abnormal thyroid function, and many patients are unaware that there are other tests that can give a much better picture of thyroid health and function.

Statistically, hypothyroid is an under diagnosed condition. In fact, in the US only ½ of Americans that have hypothyroidism know it.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at front of your neck and controls your metabolism. It therefore controls your weight, energy levels and also plays a role in cholesterol and hormone production.

When the thyroid is out of balance and not functioning optimally you can gain weight, have sluggish bowels, experience dry skin, have fertility problems, brain fog and feel tired…even if you have a great diet and activity level!

The Key Thyroid Tests

Thyroid tests should be easy to obtain from your primary doctor, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doc. However thyroid tests do take some skill to interpret and some docs may be reluctant to order more than a TSH test. If this is the case, consider getting a second option by a doctor that is familiar with thyroid health and testing.

Thyroid Test #1: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

TSH is the commonly order thyroid test. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland (a small gland in your brain). TSH communicates with the thyroid to tell it to produce more thyroid hormones T3 and T4. When all is going well in the body, TSH is in a normal healthy range and so is T3 and T4. When T3 and T4 (those important thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland) are LOW, TSH starts to INCREASE, telling the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T4.

The “healthy TSH range” has become a somewhat controversial topic in medicine. Most Canadian labs consider the upper range of TSH to be 4-5mU/L. However, many experts, including many conventional endocrinologists, consider the upper limit of TSH should be no higher than 2.5-3mU/L. This is based on the data collected on Americans without any hypothyroid symptoms. When they have a TSH test done, this is the common upper range.

Thyroid Tests #2 and #3: T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine)

As mentioned above, T3 and T3 are hormones produced by your thyroid gland. T4 is produced in much higher amounts by your thyroid gland, and then is converted into T3 in the periphery. This is important because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormones and is necessary for proper metabolic function.

Thyroid Tests #4 and #5: TPO and TGAb (Thyroid Antibodies)

As mentioned previously, autoimmune hypothyroidism is the most common cause of hypothyroid. As with any other health condidition, to achieve optimal health we must look at the underlying cause of the problem. If a patient has hypothyroidism, but does not address the autoimmunity (if present), the problem will not be addressed at the root cause. Thyroid antibodies can also be measured every 6-12 months to gauge how thyroid treatment is progressing.

Thyroid Test #6: Reverse T3 (RT3)

Although there is some controversy over the usefulness of this test, I have personally found it of benefit in my practice, especially if hypothyroid symptoms are persisting despite treatment. Sometimes, when the T4 is being converted to T3, it can be converted into RT3, a less active form of T3 that the body cannot use as well as T3. This can happen is one is under a large amount of stress or is sick. If the patient it producing a large amount of RT3, certain medication or supplements can help replenish the body with T3 and encourage the body to produce T3 over RT3.

If you have an inkling that your thyroid health is sub-optimal and your doc is not open or familiar with thyroid testing, consider switching docs or having a second opinion.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily